Monday 05 June 2017, 11:40

European kings Real Madrid make history again

  • First time a team has won the competition two years running

  • 4-1 winners over Juventus, Real Madrid have now lifted the trophy a record 12 times

  • The Spanish giants will take part in their fourth FIFA Club World Cup in December

Before this season, no team had ever won back-to-back UEFA Champions League titles since the competition replaced the European Cup in 1992. All that changed last Saturday, however, when Real Madrid consolidated their status as cup kings by retaining the continental crown they won last year.

The Spanish side did so with a 4-1 defeat of Juventus, a victory that saw them lift the famous old trophy for a record 12th time and which has given them the chance to register another first by becoming the first team to win the FIFA Club World Cup twice in a row.

While La Vecchia Signora made life difficult for Los Blancos in a first half in which Mario Mandzukic cancelled out Cristiano Ronaldo’s 20th-minute opener with a superb overhead kick, Zinedine Zidane’s side turned on the style in the second half, with their dominance rewarded after goals by Casemiro, Ronaldo once more, and Marco Asensio.

What we learned *Differing fortunes Real Madrid’s Champions League statistics are hugely impressive. The Spaniards have now won 12 of the 15 finals they have contested in the competition, including their last six. The last final they lost in a major international competition was the 1998 Intercontinental Cup – the predecessor to the Club World Cup – against Boca Juniors. In contrast, Juve* have come second best in seven of their nine Champions League finals, the last five of those defeats being consecutive.

Building momentum Zidane’s side improved as the tournament went on. After conceding three draws in the group phase (two against Borussia Dortmund and one against Legia Warsaw), they won all their matches in the knockout rounds, with the exception of their semi-final, second leg, against Atletico Madrid, accounting for Napoli, Bayern Munich, Los Colchoneros and Juve along the way.

The goal machine Arriving in Cardiff as the highest-scoring team in the tournament, Real showed their firepower once more, putting four past a Juventus side that had conceded just three goals in their 12 previous matches in the competition.

Zidane the talisman Though Zidane has taken charge of just 20 Champions League matches as a coach, he has already won the competition twice, a record unmatched in the game. The Frenchman, who joins Juan Villalonga as the only coach to lift the trophy twice in his first two seasons in the dugout, handled his star-studded squad with aplomb, ensuring his key performers produced their very best form at season’s end.

The unstoppable Cristiano Ronaldo His brace in the final took his tally for this season’s tournament to 12 and ensured he would end the competition as its leading scorer for the fifth year running and the sixth season in all, one more than Lionel Messi. In the process, Ronaldo has also become the first player to score in three Champions League finals, while also joining Andres Iniesta and Clarence Seedorf as the only players to have played in and won four finals in the tournament.

Spanish dominance Spanish clubs have now been crowned kings of Europe for the last four seasons running, with Madrid taking the honours in 2014, 2016 and again this year, while Barcelona did likewise in 2015. Spain now has 17 European Cup/Champions League triumphs to its name – five more than Italy and England.

The stat 4 - the number of times Real Madrid will have appeared at the FIFA Club World Cup when they run out in the United Arab Emirates this December. Los Blancos have won the competition twice, in 2014 and 2016, and finished fourth in 2000. Should they make the trophy theirs again this year, they will join their arch-rivals Barcelona as the most successful team in the tournament’s history.

The words “There’s a lot of talent, but there’s been a lot of hard work too. That’s been the key. When you believe that you can achieve things by putting the work in, then they can happen. I’m very proud of everyone. The most important thing is that everyone has done their bit. We have to keep it that way. That’s been our achievement this year.” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane, who has now won two Champions League titles as a coach with the club and one as a player.